Ms. Gillibrand started the avalanche with an extended statement on Facebook.
“As elected officials, we should be held to the highest standards — not the lowest,” Ms. Gillibrand wrote. “The allegations against Sen. Franken describe behavior that cannot be tolerated. While he’s entitled to an Ethics Committee hearing, I believe he should step aside to let someone else serve.”
Mr. Franken has apologized for his behavior, but the senators said his admissions are not enough.
“I have been shocked and disappointed to learn over the last few weeks that a colleague I am fond of personally has engaged in behavior toward women that is unacceptable,” Ms. Gillibrand said. “I consider Senator Franken to be a friend and have enjoyed working with him in the Senate in our shared fight to help American families. But this moment of reckoning about our friends and colleagues who have been accused of sexual misconduct is necessary, and it is painful. We must not lose sight that this watershed moment is bigger than any one industry, any one party, or any one person.”
That was followed in rapid succession with other statements. Ms. Hirono said the effort was indeed coordinated.
“We have been in touch with each other,” she said. “It’s been difficult because I consider Al a friend. I’ve sat with him in two committees, but that doesn’t excuse his behavior.”
She added: “We’re at the point where I think that there can be a cultural change in terms of how women are perceived and treated in this country. This kind of bad behavior has been tolerated and ignored for far too long, but not today.”
The statements on social media came out in a blizzard.
The Democrats’ move in the Senate came after House Democrats had showed a similarly uncompromising stand against the accused Democrats in that body. Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the longest serving African-American House member in history, left Congress on Tuesday after Democratic leaders and rank-and-file called for his resignation, amid multiplying accusations of sexual harassment.
A freshman Democrat, Representative Ruben Kihuen of Nevada, has faced calls for his resignation since charges emerged Friday that he had repeatedly propositioned his former campaign finance director.
In contrast, Republicans have stayed mum since it emerged Friday that one of their own, Representative Blake Farenthold of Texas, used $84,000 from a secret taxpayer fund to settle a lurid sexual harassment case filed against him.
And Republicans are deeply divided over Alabama’s Republican Senate candidate, Roy S. Moore, who has been accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls as young as 14, yet has maintained the support of President Trump and other conservatives. The Alabama special election for the Senate seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions is on Tuesday.
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